GPU Hierarchy 2021 – Graphics Card Tier List

Creating a GPU hierarchy is a hard task, but it’s not impossible. With so much variety in the world of graphics cards, it’ll be for the best that we sort them in separate tiers.

We’ve also decided to sort the cards within the actual tiers, so these rankings are definitely open for discussion.

To avoid overcrowding, only cards from the last two generations from AMD and Nvidia will be considered, as well as brand new Ampere and RDNA cards.

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S Tier

GPU Hierarchy Tier S

Compared to the rest of the GPUs on the market, cards from this tier are considered more suitable for enthusiasts who want to play at 4K resolution, and at the very least at 60 FPS as well, with RTX 3090 offering 8K (only with DLSS in certain games).

Of course, there are also professional graphics cards out there, but they’re not used for gaming as much as for complex AI research or software development, such as the Nvidia Titan RTX and the Nvidia Titan V.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 RTX 3080 and RTX 3070

The situation in this tier changed up a bit with the release of AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics cards. Nvidia has been the undisputed ruler for the better half of the last decade, but now it seems that AMD is back to challenge the competition.

For the first time in a while, Nvidia’s enthusiast-class card got some competition from AMD. In fact, even its flagship got competition, but the flagships are a notch below the competition for a top spot.

However, despite AMD’s strong attempt at conquering the GPU throne, it is Nvidia’s RTX 3090 who still sits firmly on top of it. Still, the RX 6900 XT has shown itself to be a good card and takes second place by a small margin ahead of the RTX 3080 Ti. Right behind it, we see the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT.

ModelManufacturer
1.RTX 3090Nvidia
2.RX 6900 XTAMD
3.RTX 3080 TiNvidia
4.RTX 3080Nvidia
5.RX 6800 XTAMD
6.Titan RTXNvidia

Related:Are NVIDIA RTX Graphics Cards Worth The Money?

A Tier

GPU Hierarchy Tier A

Cards in this tier offer a pretty good performance at a much more affordable price, although understandably not as good as those from the above tier.

Nonetheless, although these cards are capable of giving you stable 60 FPS gaming at 4K resolution, this is probably not the case with Ultra settings. At the top we have the RX 6800, RTX 3070 Ti and followed extremely closely by RTX 3070.

Despite the latter having a slightly more affordable price, the RX 6800 is still a better graphics card, and both outperform the previous generation’s top card, the RTX 2080 Ti, by a solid margin.

Still the once-coveted RTX 2080 Ti still outperforms Nvidia’s latest budget card, the RTX 3060 Ti, but that was sort of expected given their initial positions on the market.

MSI GeForce RTX 3070 GAMING X TRIO
RTX 3070 is on par with last generation’s flagship RTX 2080 Ti, but still lags behind the RX 6800

From this point, the performance drops are more gradual but still noticeable. Here we have RTX 2080 Super, a small distance ahead of RTX 2070 Super and its base version. From Nvidia’s Pascal architecture, we have the Titan Xp as a top representative, as well as the Titan X and GTX 1080 Ti. This is where AMD’s last-generation cards are able to compete as well with the RX 5700 XT and Radeon VII.

The reason why the RX 5700 XT is above Radeon VII is because of its RDNA architecture, although Radeon VII certainly makes a strong case for itself with its 16 GB of HBM2 memory.

As those two AMD cards are taking a place here, it would be unfair to leave out the RTX 2070 and the RTX 2060 Super.

Related:RTX 2060 vs RTX 2070 – Which Should You Choose?

ModelManufacturer
1.RTX 3070 TiNvidia
2.RX 6800AMD
3.RTX 3070Nvidia
4.RTX 2080 TiNvidia
5.RX 6700 XTAMD
6.RTX 3060 TiNvidia
7.RTX 2080 SuperNvidia
8.RTX 2080Nvidia
9.Titan XPNvidia
10.Titan XNvidia
11.RTX 2070 SuperNvidia
12.GTX 1080 TiNvidia
13.Radeon VIIAMD
14RX 5700 XTAMD
15.RTX 3060Nvidia
16.RX 5700AMD
17.RTX 2070Nvidia

B Tier

GPU Hierarchy Tier B

‘B’ does not stand for ‘bad’ or ‘budget’. In fact, these are perfectly serviceable cards that will provide you with a good performance for budget-friendly builds. One thing that should also be carefully considered is that in this tier we’ll see the last cards in the GPU hierarchy that support real-time raytracing.

The king of this tier is the AMD RX 5700 because of its good price point and is one of the best economical GPUs out there. Right next to it we have the RX Vega 64 and the RX 5600 XT.

As you can see below, this tier consists mostly of AMD cards with some less powerful GPUs from Nvidia, such as the RTX 2060, the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070 Ti.

rx5700

This is the final tier where you can comfortably enjoy 144 FPS gameplay without sacrificing the graphics quality, provided you have a suitable monitor to support it.

ModelManufacturer
1.RTX 2060 SuperNvidia
2.RX Vega 64AMD
3.RX 5600 XTAMD
4.RTX 2060Nvidia
5.GTX 1080Nvidia
6.RX Vega 56AMD
7.GTX 1070 TiNvidia

C Tier

GPU Hierarchy Tier C

At this point, we’re at half the price of RTX 2080 Ti, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t game with these cards.

They might not be able to pull off 1440p, but 1080p and 60 FPS at high settings can be acceptable as well, depending on your preferences. It’s vital to note that this won’t really be possible on some of the most demanding games. Further lowering the settings may be necessary for 60 FPS gaming.

gtx1660ti

Here’s where Nvidia reigns supreme once more, with stellar GPUs like GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1660 Super, which are closely followed by GTX 1070 and GTX 1660. AMD didn’t go missing here, although their performance in this rank is below par with their representative RX 5500 XT, both 4GB and 8GB version, coming strongly behind Nvidia.

Sandwiched between these two versions of RX 5500 XT is Nvidia’s GTX 1650 Super. Bottoming out the C tier we have GTX 1060 6GB.

ModelManufacturer
1.GTX 1660 TiNvidia
2.GTX 1660 SuperNvidia
3.GTX 1070Nvidia
4.GTX 1660Nvidia
5.RX 5500 XT 8GBAMD
6.GTX 1650 SuperNvidia
7.RX 5500 XT 4GBAMD
8.GTX 1060 6GBNvidia

D Tier

GPU Hierarchy Tier D

Budget cards belonging in this tier are at the bottom of the list for a reason. That being said, you can still obtain a solid performance with these GPUs. Even if you’re on a tight budget, there should still be a hierarchy for you to make an informed, personal decision.

gtx1650

Here, the top pick, unlike in the past tiers, does not have a good case for the tier above. The top of D tier is GTX 1650, closely trailed by GTX 1060 3GB. Due to the previously imposed restrictions, the only other members of this tier are GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1050.

ModelManufacturer
1.GTX 1650Nvidia
2.GTX 1060 3GBNvidia
3.GTX 1050 TiNvidia
4.GTX 1050Nvidia

Final Words On The GPU Hierarchy

Although there are a few cards that could perform on the same level as some of the cards from our GPU hierarchy, they were excluded for a reason. As mentioned before, only the last two generations of AMD and Nvidia GPUs were included. This means you won’t find cards older than 5th generation GCN and Pascal.

This hierarchy was based on outside sources for performance references such as Tom’s Hardware and the 3DMark Time Spy graphics score.

Furthermore, this list is in for some shuffling as both AMD’s and Nvidia’s latest GPU architectures, RDNA 2 and Ampere, are hitting the stores.

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Aleksandar Cosic
Aleksandar Cosic

Alex is a Computer Science student and a former game designer. That has enabled him to develop skills in critical thinking and fair analysis. As a CS student, Aleksandar has very in-depth technical knowledge about computers, and he also likes to stay current with new technologies.